By now, you’ve heard that the Houston Rockets intend to convince Jimmy Butler to work out a sign-and-trade with the Sixers. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski, Houston is now shopping some of their most notable role players in pursuit of first round picks to entice the Sixers to play ball:
The Houston Rockets are canvassing NBA teams with significant salary-cap space to individually offer center Clint Capela, guard Eric Gordon and forward P.J. Tucker as a prelude to their pursuit of a sign-and-trade deal for Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Jimmy Butler, league sources told ESPN.
The Rockets want to secure the best available first-round pick acquired for any one of three players as part of a larger deal with Philadelphia for Butler, league sources said. Redirecting salaries elsewhere for Butler could deliver the 76ers a large trade exception that it could use in acquiring a player over the course of the next year.
If Butler and the 76ers were open to the trade scenario -- and there has yet to be a formal indication the team or Butler are interested -- the Rockets would need to include two or three of those players in a deal to the Sixers or a third team to make the salaries match on a four-year, $140 million maximum contract for Butler.
Takeaway: A crucial part of the above report is the phrase “there has yet to be a formal indication the [Sixers] or Butler are interested”. And really, why would the Sixers be interested? You could even ask the same of Butler — given the assumptions that could be made about Chris Paul’s career trajectory, does Houston provide a better long-term fit than Philly? It seems as though Daryl Morey fully intends on attempting to make this trade possible. But that doesn’t mean the Sixers or Butler even care, and it doesn’t mean Morey would actually be able to pull of the maneuvering required.
Kawhi Leonard & the Clippers
Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote the following in a free agency post this morning:
As for the Clippers threat, it’s fair to wonder if the absence of a second Clippers star might be enough to dissuade him from leaving such a good situation North of the border. As such, a natural question arises: Who might the Clippers be able to pair with Kawhi?
There are many scenarios seemingly in play, but sources say one in particular looks increasingly possible: Butler teaming up with Leonard on the Clippers. There are strong indications that Leonard is interested in having Butler as a running mate, and it’s the sort of powerful pairing that would certainly vault the Clippers into contention.
Takeaway: If I’m Jimmy Butler, there’s a lot to like about the idea of pairing up with Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles. But I’m not Jimmy Butler, and like the Rockets and Jimmy rumors, there’s not much suggesting Jimmy himself is actually interested in joining the Clippers. Remember, the Sixers can offer Butler a fifth year on his contract, something no other team can do. If Butler is to leave Philly, he would have to forgo that fifth year. If he’s to join the Clippers, not only does Butler give up security, but also Kawhi has to make the decision to leave a franchise he just won the title with two weeks ago. This seems like something sources are talking about just to talk about. After all, Amick’s piece is titled “Free Agent Mysteries” — this stuff is all up in the air.
Los Angeles Clippers reunion?
Well would you look at that, the Clippers are also interested in Harris! I must ask, is there anyone the Clippers aren’t interested in? From Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Tobias Harris is expected to hold free-agent meetings on both the East and West coasts beginning June 30, league sources said. Harris is a priority for the 76ers — and expected to command a maximum-level contract. One team that should express interest in Harris should they miss out on Kawhi Leonard, according to league sources: The Clippers. Harris and the Clippers had a good relationship and Harris had an All-Star caliber season before the trade to the 76ers in February.
Takeaway: Doesn’t seem to be a lot of conviction from the Clippers here, just some fodder. Many, many teams are interested in meeting with Harris (Shams went on to write, “Brooklyn, Dallas, Denver, Memphis, Minnesota, New Orleans, and Sacramento are expected to also express interest”), so Harris will have a lot of options and at this point, Harris is obviously open to hearing teams out. Could this all be a direct leverage play on the Sixers? It is possible the Sixers plan on offering Harris his maximum years (5) but less than his maximum salary. In that case, Harris may have intentions of staying in Philly, but also attempting to strong-arm the Sixers into giving him the full max. Harris’ situation seems much murkier than that of Butler. I wouldn’t be shock whether he stays or goes. While the Sixers gave up a lot to get Harris, they need to be careful of falling prey to the sunk cost fallacy. Would they be better off fielding some more depth rather than re-signing Harris? I lean toward re-signing Harris.
- We haven’t heard much of anything about JJ Redick’s free agency intentions, which is sort of interesting to me.
- The Suns have demonstrated interest in TJ McConnell for a long time now. I would expect them to make a strong play for Teej if they can’t land someone like Corey Joseph or Pat Beverley.
- The Boston Celtics are being reported as the favorites to steal Kemba Walker from the Charlotte Hornets, according to Woj.
- Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes that “the Rockets are extremely confident in landing Butler.” This is a bit concerning, but I’m not sure how confident the Rockets should really be. In a lot of ways, this situation is out of their control.
- There is a ton of tier-b and tier-c free agents. Teams looking to fill out their depth could end up making out with bargains if they are patient enough.